Time, energy, and train of thought. They’re tricky to hang onto and even harder to manage. In fact, most leaders blame people and their issues for these elements being less than abundant. If only they made a GIS for management of people problems, leadership might be easier. But, there are solutions. They exist within how a leader manages these three vital pipelines of information and interaction. Clog one of them and the people problems persist. Clog more than one and problems back up and risk becoming explosive. Shut them all down and you have a cap on not only employee growth, but trust, rapport, loyalty and most of all, leadership. So how do you keep these pipelines open, the information you need free flowing, and employees and people continually performing? Through the use of three vital pipelines.
No leader has extra time. No leader sits around with bated breath waiting for an employee to strike up a conversation about why he or she can’t do the job that was asked. Far more normal is the frantic, frenetic pace that might resemble clowns in a circus, and while that circus is all fun and games, employees who believe their leader has no time are dangerous. Your role as a leader is to prioritize employee needs and problems and to be there for them. Your role is to listen. Yes, train them to bring solutions instead of problems. Yes, show them the boundaries you don’t want crossed when it comes to telling you the same personal problem for the 32nd iteration. But, in and among both actions, make sure you are showing them that your time matters and what matters most is that you believe they are entitled to a good bit of it. Fail to keep the time pipeline open and employees will stop sharing information, find other leaders, and start doing things differently than what you may have wanted.
It’s the moment you reach for coffee. The moment you feel your reaction being one you no longer have control over or the moment when you overreact or lose your mind because of something simple. Those are the moments when you are experiencing a shortage of energy. Whether you’re over their whining, scared about your company’s revenue, or simply fatigued because you’re working harder than you thought you’d have to in order to make it all happen, a clog in your pipeline of energy creates much bigger problems. Make more time to do what lights you up, lifts you up, and gets you in the “zone” more often. If, as the leader, you persist in dragging your behind around the job thinking Red Bull makes you a pleasure to be around, you’re the one creating half of the people problems you experience. The leader’s demeanor is contagious and rubs off on those you lead. Imagine the impending disaster created when the leader’s lack of energy turns into an entire team with less energy needed to avoid injury, be patient with change orders, or handle customers.
Train of Thought
The jokes are frequent about those distracted by a rabbit or sparkly chicken. Train of thought and focus robbed by a plethora of “squirrel moments” is becoming far more the common than the exception and yet, think about what this does to those looking to you for leadership. If your directions are scattered and lack focus or order, their performance will reflect their confusion. If you have limited follow-through and employees have a squirrel moment, your next conversation will be an overreaction and we’ve covered that challenge. If your train of thought does not allow you to stay on topic, on project, on problem, or on solution, how can you expect employees to do anything different? This pipeline takes discipline and some organization, but it also takes prioritization. Leaders who fail to keep the train of thought pipeline open and flowing in the right direction may as well have laid pipes that go in circles and ultimately go nowhere.
Leaders often state that the bulk of their problems have feet and hair on top and while we immediately conjure up names of team members who fit the description, leaders also fall into that category. What are you doing to clog the flow of information? What are you doing to ensure employees get what they need from you? What are you doing to ensure the issues they face are being lessened through your efforts, your solutions, your time, energy and train of thought? Keeping these pipelines open and functioning at optimal levels will keep their lack of performance to a minimum.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist. Through her firm Contagious Companies, managers receive coaching and training on how to be not only promoted, but prepared for leadership. To learn more, dial 1-866-382-0121 or visit: www.ContagiousCompanies.com or www.MonicaWofford.com.
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